Guiding in the fall and winter is a challenge for me when it comes to comfort.
Here in Virginia, with its variable weather, planning a day on our spring creeks takes a little ingenuity. 35 degrees at 7 a.m. can swing to 60 degrees by 2 or 3 p.m. that same day. And add a little moisture to the equation and the gear bag starts to fill up.
I’ve got my suite of work-arounds, but it usually means I wind up taking more than I need for the day.
Here are some of the features that make it a standout:
- It stretches. That means it moves when I do. When I reach out with the net, having my jacket go where I go is very helpful.
- I can push the sleeves up. There are two times when this is especially helpful; when I reach into said net in the water and when the temp outside warms up a bit but I’m not ready to give up my coat.
- DWR fabric. That is Patagonia’s water repellent fabric finish. Sure, I look at the WX before every trip, and if it is going to be a deluge (read full rain gear) for the trip we will likely pass or dress accordingly. But ’round these parts showers, either rain or snow, pop up with little warning and that extra protection comes in handy.
- Abrasion resistance. Sometimes, you just have to push through the “pucker brush” to get where you need to be. And my fleece and Nano Puffs show it… A little “up-armoring” is welcome.
- Breathability, wicking and warmth. If you are active, and guides are, then you can work up a sweat. Wicking the moisture away and having breathable fabrics can really increase the comfort level at this time of year. Conversely, when you are standing around reading the tea leaves in a fly box or waiting for a fish to stick its nose up, having some insulation is plus, a big plus.
- A hood. Sure, it is called a hoody for a reason, and the hood comes in handy to regulate comfort. While my Kromer works fine, a little extra insulation for the neck and noggin sure is nice.
- Pockets. Four big ones. Two at chest level, big enough for fly boxes and two more at the waist for fly boxes or what have you. And they all zip.
The one thing I really like: Having my hemostats handy. The tool I use most often when I am guiding is my hemostat. While you can’t see it in the image I grabbed from Patagonia, there is a tab below the left hand chest pocket to attach a zinger or, in my case, keeping my hemostat securely at hand. Priceless.
One thing I would add: a zippered inside pocket.